This talk is from the ‘Development for Species: Animals in
society, animals as society’ conference by The Alfred Deakin Institute for
Citizenship and Globalisation, Deakin University, and the ‘Sociology &
Animals’ Thematic Group of TASA. This was a two-day symposium held at Deakin
University, Melbourne City campus, September 18-19, 2017. For more information
about the conference, see here.
You can listen to other talks from this conference here.
(Victorian University) - Non-human animals are not in society: a Derridian
perspective of their subordination in society and law
Through the Derridian lens it is possible to examine Western
perceptions of beingness, languages, and cultures. Derrida revealed a perpetual consumption of
nonhuman animals, through signification and otherwise. For Derrida, that
consumption is constitutive of traditional Western notions, and habits, of
human beingness and society. He revealed
that not only are we logocentric, we are carnophallogocentric. We have defined ourselves as human, in
opposition to what we perceive as ‘animal’, and we ravenously consume in our
drive to knowledge and self-affirmation.
Derrida’s perspective raises many questions for possibilities of law
reform if we are to continue to conceive of animal protections as based in
‘rights’. That is, where we naively hope
to position nonhuman animals as subjects of law or in law, or as members of or
in society. We must first address our anthropocentric constructions of law and
society. Rights, according to Derrida,
cannot deliver his ‘justice’. Following
him, I argue that unfortunately, rights based on metaphysical, anthropocentric
notions are unlikely to properly recognise non-human animals. Derrida called for a different conception of
the future, one that is not cast forward by the past. It requires a break with the traditional
ideas of human selfhood and the devastating distinctions traditionally posited
between ‘human’ and ‘animal’.
Through Derrida’s lens, that is beyond the logocentric, and
particularly in relation to his final nonhuman-animal-related works, it is
possible to begin to grasp the enormity of the challenges facing law reform in
favour of non-human animals. Whilst this
paper cannot address the depth of Derrida’s thinking, or offer a full
deconstruction of ‘rights’, it will argue that Derrida’s lens should motivate a
movement toward addressing injustice from his perspective, to at least peer
beyond the cage of carnophallogocentrism.
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